Hicham Hajji says this was just another opportunity for Algerians to attack Morocco for the wrong reasons.
Moroccan director Hicham Hajji has once again responded to Algerian media’s unfounded criticism of his Hollywood movie “Redemption Day.”
In an interview with Assahifa English on January 19, Hajji said that Algerians who attacked his movie did so without watching or caring to understand the film’’s context and message.
He said the idea of exploring terrorism came to him when he learned of the tragic death of Moroccam photographer Leila Alaoui. Alaoui died in hospital after being shot by terrorists while working on a women’s rights campaign in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
But while Hajji was passionate about exploring the sensitive theme of terrorism, he faced the dilemma of coming up with a compelling setting and context.
“I wanted to shoot the movie in Morocco, and the dilemma was to find an enemy that we can hardly access, but in the meantime, not far from our country. I chose Algeria as a country because our land border is locked, and making my main characters going there is already a challenge,” he said.
Asked about Algerian’s negative reaction to the film, Hajji answered, “Algerians got pissed because of the movie trailer. It was an opportunity to attack Morocco again for the wrong reason. If they watched the movie, they would understand I’m not attacking them at any point, and I have many nice Algerian characters in the movie. The terrorist’s characters are mainly French people from Arab origins.”
The Moroccan movie was released on January 8. And while it has experienced a mostly warm critical reception, Algerian media was quick to pilory it based on its short trailer.
According to one journalist from the Algerian television channel El Djazairia One, the trailer was enough to know the project’s sponsor and “real” motives.
Claiming, without evidence and based on a short clip, that the Moroccan regime financed the Hollywood movie to attack Algerians and undermine the country’s reputation, the journalist called the movie “pure propaganda.”
“There is no room for coincidence in these sensitive times and this sensitive region,” the reporter said.
Redemption Day tells the story of an American archaeologist who gets kidnapped on the Moroccan-Algerian border by an ISIS-affiliated terrorist group in Algeria.
Brad Paxon, the archaeologist’s husband and a US Navy soldier, sets out to save his wife with the help of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ).
Prior to his January 19 interview, Hajji had addressed the Algerian media’s accusation on Twitter and advised them to watch the movie first before judging.
In a number of tweets, Hajji stressed that he is just a filmmaker doing his art. “Algerians are attacking for the wrong reasons with 1/10 on IMDb, Moroccans protecting with 10/10,” he said.
“I did a Hollywood low budget action movie #MadeInMorocc that the entire world is talking about. Like it or hate it, but getting there is already a victory, and it is making history.”